Updated 6/18/22: The U.S. CDC has approved both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for children 6 months old to 4 years old, such that some U.S. pediatricians will be able to start administering vaccine doses as early as Monday, 6/20/22. Pop-up clinics will also be set up as some children's museums and libraries. Parents will be able to go to Vaccines.gov (once updated with under 5 vaccine info) to find a pharmacy or healthcare provider that provides the vaccine.
While there's a common misperception that young, healthy kids are unaffected even if they get COVID-19, many people tend to forget that even seasonal flu hospitalizes a number of young children each year. On a per 100K basis, fewer kids between 6 months-4 years old were hospitalized during the Oct. 2019-April 2020 flu season than were hospitalized for COVID-19 between Oct.. 2021-April 2022:
And among kids who were admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, 23.6%, nearly one fourth of the youngest kids (6 months-4 years old) required ICU care, compared to 18.6% of 12-17 year olds.
Nor were all these hospitalized young kids already ill with an underlying medical condition: in fact, over 50% of kids 6 months-4 years old hospitalized with COVID-19 had no underlying medical condition before their COVID-19 hospitalization.
Original Post follows:
Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids Under Five Years Old Could be Available as Early as the End of June 2022. Parents of the youngest kids have had a rough last couple of years of the pandemic, and not just in the U.S. Only a handful of countries have authorized Chinese or Cuban vaccines for young kids, so the FDA authorizing Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for kids younger than five will be a major milestone not only for American kids but kids in other countries using both of these vaccines for older children and adults.
An FDA Advisory Committee will meet on June 15, 2022 to discuss the complete data that both Pfizer and Moderna are submitting for review. Moderna completed its application last month, in April, while Pfizer released its safety data for its three-dose regimen last week. Originally Pfizer had planned to request fast track authorization for a two-dose vaccine for kids under five, but decided to delay its application after finding that a two-dose regimen was only 30-40 percent effective.
If the FDA committee recommends authorization of one or both vaccines, the FDA is expected to follow the recommendation and authorize the vaccine(s), after which a CDC advisory committee will evaluate the data and the CDC Director must sign off on it before the vaccines become available to the public. Parents could be getting their youngest kids vaccinated as early as sometime the week of June 20, 2022.
How Effective are the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines for Kids Under 5?
In Pfizer's current study of 1700 children under 5, only 10 had developed symptomatic Covid-19 as of April 29; a formal effectiveness analysis will be done once at least 21 children have developed symptomatic cases. Pfizer's dosage is three 3 mg shots (vs. 10 mg. per dose for kids 5-11, and 30 mg. for adults and kids 12 and older). The first two Pfizer shots are given at least 3 weeks apart, with the third dose some months later.
Moderna's vaccine involves two doses of 25 mg. each, with the second dose administered 28 days after the first dose. Its efficacy during the Phase 3 study was 51% for kids 6 months-under 2 years of age, and 37% effective among kids age 2-6. The lower efficacy among the older kids may be due to immune system changes in the older group. The study was conducted during Omicron, which is far more transmissible than earlier Covid-19 variants. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are expected to protect kids well against severe disease and hospitalization.
Because of the higher dosage and faster timeline for protection (two shots within one month) some parents may prefer Moderna as it provides more protection sooner.
Are you a parent of a young child who's been waiting for an approved vaccine?
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